I speak to many people who are interested in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for themselves. Still, you won’t believe how common it is for parents to want to get their kids into the sport mostly to learn valuable life lessons that they can use in all aspects of their lives. However, safety is always a question I get asked by these people and parents, so how safe is Brazilian jujitsu?
Compared to just about any sport globally, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is relatively safe, with only a small number of injuries happening per 1,000 participants in professional matches. However, when you compare Brazilian jiu-jitsu to any other martial art, in my experience, it is one of the safest, with the most common injury being an elbow sprain.
It may seem like a simple answer to a simple question, how safe exactly is BJJ? But we understand that when it comes to safety, people want to do as much research as possible, and therefore, we have decided to go in-depth, and in today’s article, we want to answer all of your questions. In addition, we want to give you valuable information to use when signing up for your next martial arts class. So, let’s get into it.
Is BJJ Safer than Other Martial Arts?
To determine how safe Brazilian jiu-jitsu is can be pretty tricky without comparing it to the dangers of other martial arts. The main reason for this is because you need something to compare it with. To say that it is safe or dangerous without a comparison would be disingenuous, and we do not like doing that. So, let’s take a look at how BJJ compares to other martial arts.
When you compare BJJ to any striking focused martial arts, BJJ will always be safer because you have less risk of fracturing things such as your nose, your orbital bone, your jaw, and much more. We forgot to mention; there is less risk of cracking a rib cage. I am not saying that there is no risk, but there is much less of it when compared.
When you look at martial arts such as taekwondo, where you have kicks, flying knees, elbows, and punches straight to the face, there is no arguing that BJJ is safer.
Comparing BJJ to other grappling-focused martial arts such as wrestling and judo, BJJ tends to be safer because the takedowns are often not as brutal. In addition, when you do a takedown in BJJ, you are doing less throwing than in wrestling and judo.
So, to conclude this comparison, it would be accurate to say that BJJ is one of the safest martial arts that you can currently learn, even more so than one of our other favorite self-defense arts, Krav maga.
Are Injuries Common in BJJ?
We could go on and on about how safe BJJ is, but you are still doing an activity in which you can get hurt at the end of the day. So in this section, we will not discuss the types of injuries in-depth, but instead, we want to discuss the statistics as to how common injuries are in BJJ. If you are interested to learn about the most common injuries, I recommend you go further down in the article.
However, you must understand these statistics to not get scared of BJJ when you read through the common types of injuries.
In BJJ training, injuries are not very common except for bruises and minor cuts. However, in training, you don’t have someone trying to hurt you because there is no competition, or at least it is no competition worth hurting someone over. So, if you want to do the training and put up with the occasional bruise, I highly recommend BJJ.
Now let us focus on professional BJJ. In a study conducted, it was found that you get approximately 46 injuries out of 5022 participants in BJJ matches. Don’t worry because most of those are sprains that heal relatively quickly. Now let’s take a look at the types of injuries that were found during the study.
- 78% of all injuries were orthopedic: Elbow sprains were the most common. The result is due to a move called the “Arm Bar.”
- There was one neck injury, a cervical strain resulting from a move called the “Triangle choke.”
- Rib fractures accounted for 15.2% of all injuries.
- Lacerations only accounted for 6.5% of all injuries.
If that seems scary, please remember that there were only 46 injuries out of 5022 participants, so while those percentages may seem high, the actual number of injuries is relatively low. Also, keep in mind that this is professional BJJ and not training where injuries are less common. To learn more about the study, feel free to read through it.
Is BJJ Bad for your Brain?
This question has become quite the topic lately. It has sparked interest due to recent findings. However, the concerns about brain injury due to BJJ have been brought up by some of the world’s leading martial artists, including those high up in the BJJ scene.
Recent findings suggest that BJJ could cause damage to the brain. However, don’t let that scare you off from learning BJJ. In no situation, while BJJ training, will someone place you in a chokehold long enough to deprive your brain of oxygen for long enough.
When you compare BJJ to other martial arts, let’s boxing, there should be no need to worry about injuries to the brain. In boxing, you are constantly being punched in the head. This causes brain cells to die. However, there should be no blunt Force trauma to your head in BJJ.
In professional BJJ matches, there are instances where someone could end up in a chokehold for long enough to have their brain deprived of oxygen. In those cases, yes, BJJ can be bad for your brain.
Also, remember that by learning BJJ, you are putting yourself in a position to learn how to get out of chokeholds.
Is BJJ Deadly?
You could use any sport as an example here. Take ball sports like cricket, soccer, and rugby as an example. They don’t seem very dangerous, but technically, you could get hit with a ball, which could be hazardous, right?
The truth is, any sport can be deadly. Even running in the mornings can be dangerous, so why should someone single out BJJ when scientifically, the martial art is considered one of the safest sports in the world, not only one of the safest martial arts.
It would be highly disingenuous to say that BJJ is more dangerous than any other sport, and therefore, my answer to this question is no, BJJ is not deadly, at least for the 99.999% of people who participate in the sport.
What are the Most Common BJJ Injuries?
We have already established a few statistics in this article regarding how common an injury is in BJJ; however, in this section, we want to look at the most common injuries, and we want to be specific. So first, we will list them out, and for those of you who want to get more in-depth knowledge, we will explain them in more detail. Then, hopefully, we can list a few moves that cause most of these injuries.
So here is our list of the top seven most common injuries you might encounter in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
- Lower back
BJJ Elbow Injuries
In the study that we cited above in this article, we mentioned that although sprains are the most common injury in BJJ, or at least they are the most common severe injury, you are mainly looking at sprains.
In BJJ, there is a submission hold called the “armbar.” A person pulls off the armbar by using their legs, hips, and body weight. Once their opponent is on the ground, they lock their opponent’s arms and exert as much pressure as they can on their opponent’s elbow. This submission hold is commonly used in mixed martial arts such as the MMA and UFC.
You can also hurt your elbows if you forget how to fall correctly in training, so you might unnaturally land on your elbow. This can damage the elbow by causing a fracture; however, this is highly uncommon. Someone can go through 20 years of BJJ without this happening to them or even seeing it happen to someone else.
BJJ Lower Back Injuries
Lower back injuries are also a risk in BJJ training. However, the injury rarely requires medical attention. With that said, if you ever feel like you are in pain, always consult your doctor. When doing BJJ, there are a few ways in which you can hurt your lower back.
Hyperextension is one of the most common ways this happens. Next is pelvic twists. Remember, when you are on the ground, and you are trying to either control your opponent or get out of the control of your opponent, you will use your hips, especially if you are on the bottom.
BJJ Neck Injuries
Unfortunately, when it comes to neck injuries, it is one of the scariest things. This statement is true for any factor of life, whether in sports or not. Many small bones and tendons in the neck are crucial to your body’s nervous system, so when we discuss neck injuries, we like to take extra care.
With that said, the most common neck injury is neck strain. So, statistically, it’s not very life-threatening. In BJJ, there is a maneuver called the “triangle choke or technique.” It is not designed necessarily to put pressure on the opponent’s neck, as BJJ is more about self-defense than inflicting harm to your opponent.
However, the technique is designed to cut blood flow which causes one of two things. First, your opponent will submit, or second, they will pass out, in which case you win the match. During the choke, you put a tremendous amount of strain on your opponent’s neck, and the more they try and get out of the choke the more pressure is exerted on that neck.
BJJ Knee Injuries
Two types of injuries can occur to your knee in BJJ. The most common of these has to do with your ligaments and your tendons, and the other has to do with the muscular structure of your knee.
When it comes to the muscular structure of your knee, an injury can occur by you falling wrong or twisting your knee.
In BJJ, there are a lot of leg locks and a lot of leg sweeping. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your ligaments and tendons that hold the structural integrity of your knee. If something goes wrong, you can tear a ligament or a tendon, but it is uncommon as it is with most of these injuries.
BJJ Shoulder Injuries
In BJJ, the term “posting” means to put your hand on the mat. It helps prevent you from being swept, and it also gives you a way to regain your posture quickly. Unfortunately, one unfortunate occurrence when posting is a possible shoulder injury.
You cannot avoid posting; however, when you post correctly, you have less risk of injury. The standard rule is to keep your elbows close to your body. Don’t ever let them stick out, as this is what causes the injuries on your shoulders to occur.
Luckily BJJ teaches you more than enough discipline and other personality traits, so once you learn a technique and keep practicing it, it is hard for you to forget about it. For example, posting with your elbows close to your body will become like second nature.
BJJ Ankle Injuries
Ankle injuries, while serious, are very rare. So, it is incredibly challenging to pinpoint precisely what causes ankle injuries in the sport but know that they are possible.
The most common ankle injury in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is minor sprains which require only a little bit of medical attention.
BJJ Ear Injuries
In most close combat sports, there is a condition known as “cauliflower ear.” When blood starts to clot on the top of your ear, it is not a severe medical condition, although it can become uncomfortable, and most Fighters don’t like the way it looks, so they have it sorted out.
Cauliflower ear is a condition that a doctor can sort out. However, most fighters and professional athletes do not have it sorted out until after their careers. Therefore, for anyone who wants to train in BJJ, cauliflower ear is not very common. It is only common in those that are in the sport professionally.
What are The Most Dangerous Martial Arts?
This is a highly subjective question with an equally subjective answer. If you ask 100 of the most advanced martial artists, you might get 50 or 60 different answers to what the most dangerous martial art is, so I can give you my opinion based on my experience, and that’s about it.
Krav Maga and taekwondo are two of the most dangerous martial arts in the world. For example, getting hit with a butterfly kick across your ear can cause heavy trauma to your head. Sports such as boxing can also be considered dangerous because they have a long-term adverse effect on your brain.
At the end of the day, we can understand when people are hesitant about taking on new sports, especially when those sports are combat involved. However, if I were to give any advice, BJJ teaches you how to defend yourself and while there might be some small risks involved in those classes, the rewards of protecting you and your family far outweigh the risks involved.